June 23, 2024

When movie dialogues are hard to understand

When movie dialogues are hard to understand


Louder doesn’t help, certainly not quieter: When actors’ voices are drowned out by music and effects, good advice is pricey. Photo: Kristen Klose / dpa-tmn

(Photo: dpa)

In the case of English production, the problem has been apparent in the original version for some time. Comprehension difficulties are becoming more and more common in German films and series. The Reason chain:

According to “Golem.de”, a very practical problem with recording crystal-clear sound arises from the fact that today microphones are less able to be perfectly placed, that is, they are mounted on a pole above the speaker. This is usually hardly possible in productions full of effects and action. Otherwise, they are often dispensed with, fearing that the pole will cast a shadow. It is rare for it to take extra time to improve the sound again for cost reasons.

“Fight” dialogues with music and effects

Bad sound cannot be modified in post-processing either. The variety of soundtracks in digital recordings doesn’t necessarily make things better either: the sound in analog stuff wasn’t nearly as complex, but was generally clearer. Today, dialogues have to “fight” with music, but also with background noise, in order to be noticed.

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Additionally, for a variety of reasons, a soundtrack mix that sounds perfect in a sound engineer’s studio may not play properly in a cinema. According to Golem.de, cinemas often generally lower the sound because the effects are otherwise too loud.

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Lots of audio tracks and no channels

One of the problems with broadcasting at home is the compression of the audio track for transmission. This can lead to a loss of quality. On the other hand, there is the question of whether you even have an AV receiver and several different amplifiers so that each audio channel can be used individually in the right place.

If you are only watching and listening through the TV and the built-in speakers, you often have to live with the fact that the effects and music are dominant and make the dialogue more difficult to understand. A good middle ground between a complete and expensive home cinema system and inconvenient television speakers, a sound bar can help improve sound and clarity.